Al Ain: Nigeria coach Manu Garba has warned his side will only get better in the Fifa Under 17 World Cup ahead of their second-round clash with Iran in Al Ain on Tuesday from 8pm.
Joint record three-time Fifa Under 17 World Cup winners Nigeria topped Group F with devastating 6-1 and 5-0 wins over defending champions Mexico and Iraq either side of a 3-3 draw with Sweden last week.
In terms of most goals scored in the group stages, they are second only to Brazil — one goal behind them on 14 — with Nigeria’s Kelechi Iheanacho sharing the top scorers’ table on four goals along with Brazil’s Boschilia, Nathan and Slovakia’s Tomas Vestenicky.
Iran meanwhile, qualified second from Group E after holding South American Under-17 champions Argentina and Canada to 1-1 draws before beating Austria 1-0.
In a warning to the Iranians, Nigeria coach Garba said the Golden Eaglets had yet to reach their full potential in the tournament.
“We are very happy to be here so far,” said Garba. “We thank Allah for this and think that we are on course to doing better.
“We would get better as the tournament progresses and as I said earlier, we did not have any quality friendly matches before the start of the tournament and I believe we can always get better.”
Iran coach Ali Doustimehr said: “Ever since I can remember, Nigeria has been one of the Fifa Under-17 World Cup favourites. Nigeria and Brazil are the most powerful teams.
“It is really difficult playing against Nigeria but we want to go ahead, that’s why we are here. I promise to do our best against the team. The Iranian people love football and I ask them all to pray for us.”
Iran captain Majed Hosseini added: “We will do everything we can to make sure we don’t let the opponents in. It will be the hardest game so far for us; we have no illusions about it. Nigeria are a very strong team.
“We know about their attack. We know that they only need one second to hurt you, to score a goal from nothing. We know all of this. But we have our strengths too.
“Everybody in the team acts as a defender and when we do go forward we go forward as one. This is one of the secrets of our success. Our defenders, all of us, are close friends and we support each other. When we get in trouble there’s always someone to help out.
“Our goal is the last four. We outlined this before the tournament started and we can still do it. We’ve felt positive energy coming from home. We want to make the Iranian people happy and we’ll give everything we have against Nigeria to do it.”